Don’t Judge Me!

We’ve all heard people say it… usually in a loud voice no less.

Where does the conversation tend to go after that?

“I’m not!”

“Yes you are, how dare you?  Jesus said ‘judge not lest ye be judged’ and you’re judging me!”

Blah blah blah…

It is important to keep two things firmly in our minds:  1. Jesus did say that.  The “judge not” however had nothing to do with using judgment, it had everything to do with condemnation; we’re not to condemn, that’s God’s job.  Nobody who reads the New Testament with anything approaching understanding would claim that we are not supposed to use good judgment in every situation, and nobody would say that we are supposed to compromise what is right and call it not judging.

That brings us to the second thing we must keep in mind:  People don’t usually get into the whole “you’re judging me” thing unless they are doing something they know to be wrong.  Oh, yes, when you are caught with your hand in the cookie jar, it’s a great argument tactic to change the subject and accuse the person who caught you.

Love, patience, calm and truth will overcome the lie in time.  Being run off the pathway with bluster and debate tricks will never lead to the truth.

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Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

In my usually not humble enough opinion, the photo above shows something of beauty… yes, I posted a picture of a flower, and no, I’m not going to surrender my “Man Card” for posting it.

But that’s where the eye of the beholder comes in, I think…

God has created awesome beauty, such as the simple flower in this photo.  Are we “man enough” to admit it?  I would hope so.

So why is it then that many can’t just admit it?

For that matter, why is it that so many can’t even admit that God exists, particularly in light of the overwhelming evidence?  Why won’t some folks admit that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God in spite of the evidence? It’s sad, really…

It would seem that so many are worried about what someone else might say about them.  In the case of this photo some “tough guy” might call me a “girly man” because I admit the obvious fact that it is beautiful.  Someone might call you an idiot because you acknowledge that God is really there, or they might call you an extremist because you will admit the truth about Jesus Christ; pathetic isn’t it?

Those men who refuse to admit the truth about God will perish, and while I take no joy in saying so, I can’t see the point of perishing with them in order to impress them.

Wouldn’t it make much more sense to worry less about what certain people might say and simply acknowledge what is right and true?  Wouldn’t it make more sense to worry less about what someone might think, and stand up for Jesus Christ?  And wouldn’t it also make sense to give Him the praise and glory that He deserves, not to mention the thanks for His glorious creation?

By the way, who would be the bigger man?

The View from the Top

Sometimes I like to go to a high place and look down; you can see a lot from up here.  Down there on the streets of town you can see the details, but it’s hard to take in the whole thing… your view gets blocked by the buildings, the traffic, the people…

Up here you can see the whole town at once and how it fits into the terrain, you can see the hills, the river and the railroad tracks, and you can see how everything is laid out… a little like looking at a map but with the rooftops plainly in view.  I wonder what goes on in all of those buildings, how old they are, who went inside a hundred years ago…  The view from up here makes me think about things, and it also helps my mind to wander outside of the everyday kind of stuff…

…And after that you can look to the side and get some perspective on the scene; remember that your feet are still on the ground; the view is wide and high, but reality remains.

In a funny way, these kind of views are a lot like the Bible; you get an eternal view but your feet are still on solid ground.  God’s Word contains the wisdom of the ages, but remains entirely practical.  You can find out what people did thousands of years ago and come to realize that little has really changed.  You can also discover that like the town in these pictures, the Universe and our lives were laid out with a plan; everything is in its place and relates in a logical way with everything else… and you can also see that God has a plan for each one of us.

Just like the town, the people don’t always follow the plan, sometimes people do the wrong thing, that’s why the town has a jail and a court… and in our lives sometimes we don’t follow God’s plan and we come to wish we had followed it…  And of course, we discover in the Bible that God’s plan covers a lot more time than just our lives; it’s eternal.  It’s a lot like this little town.  It’s been there for a long time; it was the home of General Grant before and after the Civil War.  It will be there long after I leave… It might be a good idea to get with the plan!

Yep, I really like to visit high places, it really helps to get my head screwed on straight.

Sunday Bible Study Notes: February 26

A Sabbath Healing

 

Today’s Text:              John 5:1-15

Introduction

 

This passage lies at the beginning of a unit within the Gospel that continues through 12:50 that covers the major Jewish festivals.  The specific festival in question here in chapter 5 is not identified by the text, so for our purposes we will not worry about trying to speculate on this point, although there are various theories put forth by commentators; the application here is not affected by which festival is involved.

The pool atBethesdawas stirred periodically, we don’t know how often, and the first lame person into the pool when it was stirred would be healed.  The man who is the subject of our text was so disabled that he was not able to move quickly enough to be first, and had suffered his disability for 38 years. In our text, Jesus will heal him, command him to pick up his mat and walk, and then slip back into the crowd.  The aspect of this event that we will concentrate on today is the reaction of the Jews, while next week we will concentrate on Jesus’ response to them in vv. 16-47.

Points of Interest

 

5:1-4                 The first three verses are discussed in the introduction, however you might notice that the NIV does not have a verse four.  It is contained in the footnote and omitted from the text.  The King James renders verse four thusly: “For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had.” This verse does not appear in the early manuscripts, yet in the latest ones it suddenly appears.  This is considered to be the result of an early margin note giving the local explanation (myth?) that had later been incorporated into the text.

5:5-9                 Jesus walks up to the man and asks him a simple question: “Do you want to get well?”  The man’s reply demonstrates that he had little hope.  Not only had he been in this condition for 38 years, but the pool rules required that he be first into the pool, and only people better off than he had any chance of making it; he appears to have been demoralized.  Jesus did not argue, lecture or pity, He simply gave a command without further comment: The man complied without hesitation.  I wonder if we would be so bold in this man’s condition!  The man believed Jesus; he took Jesus at His word.  There were no questions, arguments or hesitations: He followed Jesus’ command.  All appears to be well until verse 9… it was the Sabbath

5:10-13             In these verses, we cannot help but be amazed at the ridiculous reaction to this miracle: It was the Sabbath and you aren’t allowed to carry your mat.  Nobody said, “Wow, aren’t you the guy who was crippled for 38 years… and now you are healed:  Praise God!”  No, there will be no rejoicing for what God has done, only condemnation because the guy picked up his stupid mat. The man told them that he had the mat because the guy who healed had told him to pick it up, and of course they demand to know who had done that. (Conspiracy to break the Sabbath!) The man had no idea…

5:14-15             A curious thing happened: Jesus ran into the man later and warned him to stop sinning lest something worse happen to him and the man ran to the Jews to report who his co-conspirator was.  There are several possible reasons for Jesus’ words to the man here, although it seems to me that the most likely meaning is to warn the man not to sin lest he receive condemnation at the final judgment.  It seems unlikely that Jesus was talking about carrying the mat on the Sabbath!  Notice also the lack of the man thanking Jesus for his healing, could that be the answer?  In any case, the man ratted on Jesus to the Jews.  Curious, don’t you think? This act, of course sets up the next part in this story which we will consider next week.

For today, it is interesting to consider where all of these Sabbath rules came from.  Rest assured that it was not from the Law, but rather they came from the Jews’ interpretation of the Law, a very strict interpretation that converted a day of rest and relaxation into more of a heavy yoke of obligation that Jesus dealt with over and over again.

Do we Christians make up rules of conduct that Jesus didn’t give us and turn our faith into a heavy burden instead of its being a joy?  This should make for an interesting discussion!

The Home Stretch

Yesterday when I came back into the house after shoveling several tons of fresh, wet heavy snow, I was looking through some old photos for a blogging idea when I came upon this one…

Now I am not a Cubs fan particularly but I am a baseball fan… and spring training is beginning this week.  Boy, you put that together with shoveling (tons) of snow and all of a sudden I can’t wait!!!

I love football, and I used to enjoy basketball… but there’s always been something about baseball.  Maybe it’s all linked to childhood memories or something.  I can vividly remember the first time I ever went to a baseball game.  I was six… and walking into Dodger Stadium and seeing the enormity of the place for the first time was breathtaking.  The whole ambiance of the ballpark… it’s like it was yesterday.

The green grass, the crack of the bat (it was batting practice) the aroma of cigar smoke, hot dogs, peanuts… yum!  The players out on the field, Koufax, Drysdale, Gilliam, Wills, Tommy Davis… and on the other side it was the Cubs of all teams, Santo, Beckert, Banks, Billy Williams… a boy’s dream scenario!

And so as I turn to look out the window and see snow everywhere… baseball and spring are sounding really awesome…

Of course I haven’t been a little boy for more decades than I really care to think about, and I must remind myself that the Bible says there’s a time for every season under Heaven, and I know that the season right now is still winter… for another month more or less.  OK, and I must admit that so far the winter has been more mild than the last several. Even so, I can’t wait for baseball!

I thought I was finished with this post, but one more thought occurs to me.  In my present frame of mind I almost feel like I can understand how the disciples might have felt on that fateful day between the crucifixion and the resurrection; well at least a small percentage of it.  But the knowledge that Jesus rose from the dead seems to confirm that spring will surely come, and with it all of the wonders of that season.  Thank you, Lord for the order that you have given to all of our lives, and the certainty that not only will spring come soon, but for the certainty that You will too.

By the way, the Dodgers won that very first game that I went to, 3-2 if I recall correctly.  A little too close for comfort of course, but I was happy to have a win!

Wanna know a secret?

Well, do you?

Have you ever had someone ask you this?

If so, you probably also know that the person usually says, “promise not to tell?” So, let’s start over…

Wanna know a secret?

Will you promise to tell everybody?

(Woops, this secret must be a special one, because you need to tell it to everybody!)

OK, are you ready?  Here comes the secret:

Jesus died for you, so that by His death you might live… forever.  He died so that you can be at peace with God and live a joy-filled life through good times and bad.  He will walk with you, he will comfort you and He will guide you by His Word…

BUT: There’s a catch!

You have to respond to this in faith… and tell everybody.

So, here’s a new question…

Who will you tell next?